We got on our way to Fair Play SC (2 miles from the GA border and 100 miles from Atlanta, GA, the land of major discount fireworks warehouses, adult stores and peach trees which were in bloom with white flowers and absolutely gorgeous. Sophie took the trip very well and just laid in her chair. On the way, we went through Charlotte, NC. It is a fairly large city with quite a downtown area. It is the home of the Lowe’s Motor Speedway, one of Nascar’s major tracks, but we didn’t stop. Entering Charlotte, the Interstate gave way to city streets. The traffic was terrible with stop lights every quarter mile or so. It took forever to get through the suburbs and Charlotte itself. We finally got onto Interstate 85 and headed west hoping the rest of the trip would go well. Fat chance. While driving down the road we had some excitement. It could only happen to us. We were following a big truck that was spewing ice and snow from his roof. We avoided being right behind him but a huge sheet of ice flew off and hit us on the drivers side front window. It shattered the window but didn’t come all the way through so we were able to continue on to the campground. The trucker doesn’t even know he did it so we have to get hold of the trucking company to pay for the repair. The glass company is coming to the campground which is a relief.
It is a really nice campground and on a big lake but we can’t see it from our spot. (Pictures will be in next letter.) We picked out a nice open spot, parked and sure enough one tree is in the way of our satellite so Bob had to set up our portable dish. Between that and the window he was not in a good mood. The TV wouldn’t have been a big deal, but NASCAR races were on so had to get up and running. My observations on South Carolina and Georgia - These states (at least in the parts we have been in) could be very pretty with all the trees and rolling hills, but they mostly look very unkept and in some places trashy. Even in the bigger towns the downtown areas haven’t been restored and the newer areas are nothing but strip malls, the big box stores and fast food places. I found out that the beautiful white flowering trees are ornamental flowering pear and the purple ones are ornamental flowering cherry trees. They are really pretty, but the pollen count is the highest ever recorded and our sinuses are going crazy and the car is covered every morning. Also, where there are older churches (and there are many) there are graveyards, so have seen a lot of them. The weather has been in the 80's and since we don’t do warm weather well, we haven’t been able to sit outside much. Sofie was very loving when we first saw her which was just a ploy to get us to pick her because now she has turned feisty and hates to be held and she learned to play hard and hasn’t learned not to use teeth and claws on human skin, but she is learning. Bob picks her up and makes her sit on his lap, which she just barely tolerates and in turn she loves to attack Bob’s legs and has pretty much turned into his cat. When she isn’t sleeping with him she is racing up and down the place playing with her mouse - what a character. We tried putting a harness on her to get her used to going outside on a leash. She had managed to get it off in just a couple of minutes. We will have to get a different kind. The first week we didn’t so much of anything. Bob’s satellite dish for his internet wasn’t working so he is having to go to the library in Anderson (20 mi). Hopefully, it will be fixed soon. Also, I has having a problem with a pinched nerve in my back and finally broke down and went to a chiropractor in Seneca (also 20 mi) and it turns out I have a rib out of place that is pushing against my rod. It only hurt when I turned, sat or stood wrong so it was giving me an excuse not to do anything, but all good things must come to an end. Anyway, she is the best I have been to and has given me some simple exercises to do anytime, anywhere - maybe there is hope for me yet. I went in on Mon. afternoon and then Bob wanted to stop at the library in Anderson to get his e-mail. He gets more e-mail than anyone I know (at least 20 per day) so 3 hours later I finally made him take me out to dinner
We then went on to Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls. They are both on Stumphouse tunnel Park on Stumphouse Mountain in South Carolina. The Park is 439.6 acres on the mountain. The tunnel was a project that was planned in the 1850's to connect SC to the Midwest with a direct rail line. It was abandoned during the Civil War due to lack of funds. 1300 feet of it is now open to the public. I didn’t feel like hiking up the hill to see an empty tunnel, but Bob did and took pictures so it was as good as being there and it turned out that it was a good thing I sat on my butt in the car, because it was quite a hike and a long way into the tunnel.
Issaqueena Falls is a beautiful waterfall named for an Indian maiden who hid on a ledge to avoid capture as she fled to warn her English lover of an Indian attack. The falls are really not much of a waterfall, just a series of low falls cascading down the hillside. However, they are very picturesque and in a beautiful wooded area. There is a lovely trail to the falls which leads from the parking lot to the falls. The trail has three bridges, (one a very pretty covered bridge)which cross Cane Creek several times. The Falls are a part of Cane Creek. The hike is well worth the effort.
Our next stop was at Oconee Station which was built in 1792 as one in a series of blockhouses along the SC frontier during tension between the Indians and settlers and garrisoned with troops until 1799. Now, having said all that - it was closed to car traffic so we decided to see the Station Cove Falls first. They are 90 feet high on Station Creek and are in a pretty wooded country with lots of wildflowers around. We were told was an easy 1/6 mi. walk. They lied! It was more like a mile and it wasn’t an easy walk. The trail followed Station Creek crossing the creek a few times usually by stepping stones in the creek bed. I finally made it to the falls and it was pretty and all that, but not worth all the torture I went through. I was so thirsty I used my hat to scoop up water and it also cooled me down when I put it back on so refreshed me a little, but then I still had to get back. I won’t bore you with all the rest stops I had to make and by the time I crawled to the car I was ready for a whole bottle of pain pills- okay, so I am exaggerating, but just a little. Needless to say we didn’t go back and tour Oconee Station itself.
Our first stop was the Toccoa Falls - a 186 ft. waterfall which is one of the highest free-falling falls east of the Mississippi River and 26' higher than Niagara Falls-located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and on the campus of Taccoa Falls College. Toccoa means “beautiful” in Cherokee and it really is. There used to be a dam above the falls, creating a big lake, but in 1977 after many days of rain the dam broke and the ensuing water surge over the waterfall killed 39 people at the college. This is a very religious college so it was a major tragedy for the town. The trail to the falls is a well maintained trail, handicapped accessible. Merry's scooter did very well except in one spot where water was running across the trail. I pushed her through. It is probably about a quarter to a half mile trail which follows Taccoa Creek. A trail worth hiking.
We then headed towards Ragsdale Mill built circa 1863 by Rev. Francis Ragsdale as well as the original Methodist Church. We had trouble finding it and by hit and miss after stopping for directions we ended up on an old dirt road and came across an old man who turned out to be the last living Ragsdale relative. He was full of old time lore so Bob could have talked to him all day and he did give us directions. Before we could actually go to the mill we had to stop at an old farm house where the mother lives to getpermission. She was 80 and dressed in ragged overalls, lives in the original house and she still does all the haying, butchering, etc. Talking to her was like going back to the Ma and Pa Kettle days. She was really a kick, very enjoyable and wished we could have spent the day listening to all her tales. We went on to the mill and again it was like stepping back in time. There is a house there that they rent off and on which hasn’t been modernized, but the area is beautiful and it would be a kick to stay there for a while. The whole experience was exceptional.
Next we headed for Hurricane Shoals Covered Bridge which was constructed in the image of the original 1886 bridge that was burned by vandals in 1972. The Creek and Cherokee Indians believe the land to be sacred. It is also the setting for an 1850 Heritage Village and grist mill. The buildings weren’t open, but got a lot of pictures of the outside and surrounding grounds. We then went on to try to find Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge, but never did find it so will go back at another time. The directions to all these places in the Tourist Guides are very vague.
On our way to Lake Hartwell which straddles the border between SC and GA, we went through the town of Hartwell. It is another town which has a lot of history behind it. There were several well preserved homes. Since we had a full day ahead of us we didn't tarry too long.
Leaving Calhoun Falls we then started our “Upcountry Excursion” into the historic Abbeville County in SC. The courthouse town of Abbeville was built by the Scots-Irish in 1785 and is the county seat. The town grew up around the gracious, tree-lined square and is surrounded by 300 Victorian homes and churches that includes the Trinity Episcopal Church built in 1860 with a soaring 125 ft spire and stained glass windows. The town also includes the Abbeville Opera House which opened in 1908 with its scarlet and gold interior, 3 tiers of boxes and a 7500 sq. ft. stage that hosted Sarah Bernhart and the Zeigfield Follies among others. It was restored in 1968 and live theater is once again performed 45 weekends a year - the Eureka Hotel, opened in 1903 to serve the textile industry salesmen, railroad men, performers and theatregoers. It was restored in the 1980's as the Belmont Inn and still serves travelers, businessmen and theatregoers - the Confederate Lodge built in 1841 and was the site of Jefferson Davis’s last war council before he fled to GA. It is now known as the Burt Stark Mansion and the last surviving member of the Stark family donated the house and its furnishings to the historic society in 1971. There was also a historic Catholic Church, but we couldn’t get much info on it. There were so many historic structures and the town itself was very pretty and well kept up and was really delightful.
The drive from there to Due West was one of the prettiest drives we have been on in SC. It was open country with beautiful trees, green rolling hills and the ranch/farm houses were huge, awesome and well kept up. Due West was formed after the Cherokees signed a peace treaty giving SC this part of the state. During the following years the Scots-Irish group, the Associate Reformed Presbyterians, moved into the state and in 1790 built “the Church at Due West Corner”; hence the name of the town. Since the high educational standards of the ARP Church required college training for ministers, in 1839 Erskine College opened and was the first 4 yr college in SC. It has since grown and has one of the pretty campuses I have ever seen and has since gobbled up old Due West, but still houses the 1858 Euphemian Literary Society Hall that was restored in 1912 and the 1893 Erskine Towers which is still in service.
The next town was Donald, which was originally called Boonesborough Township in 1763. It was later renamed after the Donald family of Ulster Scots and full of old un-restored historical buildings, very dilapidated and is not a pretty town. We drove around and around and finally found the abandoned Southern Railway Depot (late 1800), which is for sale, and Donald’s United ethodist Church that was organized in 1883 and still in service.. After that we headed home and that night we caught the tail end of a major storm. Our NOAA severe weather warning device kept going off warning of tornado conditions, but all we got was a short period of gusty winds and a lot of rain which we really needed. The RV across the street did lose his awning, but was the only one.
Anderson is the closest town of any size. It's about 15 miles from the campground. It also is an old historic town. We have been there a few times since Bob has to go to their library to use the WiFi for his email. We have had dinner there a couple of times but nothing to write home about. We went there today to do some shopping. They have a Wal-Mart. And then back to the rig.
We also went by a cutest little church I have every seen. It was just sitting there at the side of the road up on a little hill in a beautiful setting. There isn't any town around close so we are not sure why it was there all by itself but it looks like it is still in use. Must be for the farmers around the area.
Nearby was the Nacoochee Indian Mound which was the center of an ancient Cherokee town of Gauxule and according to legend visited by DeSoto in 1540 in his search for gold. On this ceremonial mound, 190' high, 150' wide and 20' high, stood the Town House where a sacred fire burned unceasingly and ceremonial dances were performed . Residents of the town lived on the flat land surrounding the mound. The finding of Hey Foundation Archaeologists, who explored the mound in 1915, indicated an advanced culture of the inhabitants.